This is part of an on going series about the Ministry of Reconciliation. A three-minute read.
Reconciliation (noun) /ˌrek.ənˌsɪl.iˈeɪ.ʃən/:The process of making two opposite beliefs, ideas or situations agree
Read the entire series
Last year I wrote about some personal cases of poverty and arrived at the idea that while wholesale action is good, retail action is better.
By wholesale I mean pushing for change at all levels, from my neighborhood to the international stage. Large-scale action does bring change, but it’s impersonal and transactional. Counter-intuitively, it doesn’t result in transformational change. It only looks good on the score card.
There’s progress, sure, and I don’t minimize that. The UN World Food Programme reports there are two billion more of us than in 1990, but 216 million fewer of us are going hungry. That’s good news, at least for those of us privileged enough to eat regularly.
But hold that thought for a moment while we stay on this idea of wholesale versus retail.
The British government is engaged in a large-scale assessment of the nation’s food system. The goal is to transform it. The result, intended or no, would be to have us make retail changes (the personal level) because of policy changes (the wholesale level).
Policy can drive behavior, but ultimately only our behavior makes the policy work. The report is worth reading, because it shows in stark terms how we could be much kinder to our own bodies. If we were, we would be kinder to the food system and to the environment.
The facts are clear that those of us with physical conditions exacerbated by poor eating habits (i.e. diabetes, obesity, heart disease) are much more likely to be severely affected by disease. Nowhere have we seen this than in the statistics around Covid-19 fatalities.
Unfortunately, these important markers have been all but drowned out by the constant clamor surrounding the virus (is it still a pandemic?), the daily case counts and death counts, and the political response to all this – as opposed to the public health response.
Without falling too far down that rabbit hole, let’s pull back and take a stark quote from the aforementioned report:
‘At the same time, the virus has shown with terrible clarity the damage being done to our health by the modern food system. Diet-related illness is one of the top three risk factors for dying of COVID-19. This has given a new urgency to the slow-motion disaster of the British diet.’
Did you catch the named culprit? ‘Diet-related illness’. And the result? ‘Slow-motion disaster’. Of course, where there is slow-motion disaster there can also be slow-motion recovery. In all things, be patient. There is no quick fix.
If you are an American reader, don’t be smug. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 94% of covid deaths in the United States involve co-morbitities.
So, we have found another place that needs reconciliation: our relationship with food. Not about growing, marketing, transport or packaging. Rather, what we eat and how we eat. You could say it’s reconciliation with our own bodies.
Unless we are reduced to begging for our meals, what we put in our bellies drives our decision-making about food. It’s not the other way around. If I’m in the habit of loading up on salty snacks or sweet, I develop a yearning for the same. If I eat a more balanced diet, my cravings lessen and I tend to make wiser choices.
As my AA sponsor would say, ‘choices have consequences.’ And nowhere are these more stark than in how we treat ourselves: spiritually, emotionally and physically. The last one is easiest for me to see. I only need to look at the roll around my middle! Only I can change that.
Good news: if I do change that, it can lead to change for others. My retail action feeds into the wholesale. When millions of us do it, meal by meal, day by day, that slow-motion disaster can stop.
Image by Harrison Haines via Pexels